Susanna Lang

Deep Creek

We hike up an old logging road to what’s left—saplings
grown into new forest, one or two of the old trees
just to remind us.  The skeletons of hemlock,

not commercially valuable since they’re often hollow
at the core, but paradise to one of the small devourers
someone imported by mistake.  And this park,

the trails cleared for those like ourselves who take the day
to climb past the campground, children and their parents
and grandparents spinning in bright tubes on the shallow current,

shouting and laughing at each other—paradise for them, too,
but we want the quiet higher up, quiet but not silence
because the creek travels beside us, talking all the while,

and the birds talk back from their hiding places.  
Here another creek joins the first, where a bridge

has been thoughtfully built for us, and a late-blooming
rhododendron drops its petals across the rail
as if there’d been a wedding. And on the way down

we do find a wedding party near the tubers’ landing,
the bride smiling to herself beneath her veil, bridesmaids
melting despite their sleeveless dresses, flower girls ready

with their baskets.  The groom waits farther up the path,
fumbling his boutonniere.  A union witnessed, if only in passing,
by all of us, tubers and hikers and anyone else

who happens to be here—we all join in blessing this couple,
married within the garden’s gates then leaving, not that a higher power
requires their exile but simply that it’s time to eat,

a feast has been laid out somewhere else, and for us, too,
we’ve had enough, our feet hurt and it’s time for dinner.

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